John Coyle – Chain smoking veteran who never spoke of war

German WW1 army belt, kept by John Coyle

Name of soldier : John Coyle

Descendent : Gary Coyle

Gary Coyle is an artist, originally from Dun Laoghaire and now living on Dublin’s Northside. He exhibits with the Kevin Kavanagh Gallery and was elected a member of artists body Aosdana in 2009. He was elected a member of the Royal Hibernia Academy in 2007.

Gary’s work embraces various media, including drawing, photography and spoken art/performance. In 2018, he had a one man show spoken word show at the Project entitled My Magnetic North.

Gary’s grand father and great uncle, who were second generation Irish born from Glasgow, both served in the First World War.

Your own name : Gary Coyle

Your relative: Grandfather John Coyle

Period of activity: World War One

Specific regiment: Don’t know

Areas served in: France

Did you have much contact with him?

No. He smoked himself into an early grave, 13 years before I was born. Apparently, he never spoke about the war. I think it completely traumatised him.

Where is he buried?

In Mount Jerome cemetery (pictured above)

Do you have any mementos of him?

Yes, a leather belt and buckle (pictured at top).

My grandfather got it off a German soldier and wore it until he died. It’s a standard issue army belt, and the motto on the buckle says ‘Gott Mit Uns’, which means ‘God is With Us’. And now I wear it.

…………………………………..

Gary Coyle’s Great Uncle also served

Your other relative: Great Uncle Thomas Maguire

Period of activity: World War One

Specific regiment: The Royal Dragoons

Areas served in: Belgium. Second Battle of Ypres

Did you have much contact with him?

No, he was killed in action in 1916 and his body was never found.

Where is he buried?

My Great Uncle’s body was never found. His name is on the Menin Gate at Ypres (above).

Do you have any mementos of him?

I have my grandfather’s German belt, as I said, which I sometimes wear. And someone else in the family has the Great Uncle’s campaign chest


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